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Packing Heat, Rosaries: Priests Bear Arms to Protect Churches

Thieves are figuring if they're already committing a sin, they might as well go large. A recent spate of church robberies is forcing some Russian priests to consider bearing arms to protect their religious icons. One such attack inside the Golden Ring in Russia (near Moscow, with long historical ties to orthodox Christianity) ended with thieves holding a priest at automatic gunpoint while they relieved the church of its prized medieval icon.

The brains behind the Glocks for Jesus plan? The police. Acknowledging that abysmal area roads would make responding to calls for help too little, too late, the authorities have advised priests to apply for licenses and carry firearms. The thieves know the police can't get to churches in time and have taken to using off-road vehicles. This combined with rising drug and alcohol addictions, fuel the thieves' quests for the valuable pieces and also makes them more violent.

The diocese does not see carrying guns as a solution, and according to a spokesman the plan is fundamentally flawed. "Of course it's nonsense for priests to have a gun. . . there must be a state program to protect churches. It is not only up to the church to defend itself because this is everyone's heritage."


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